Thursday, January 20, 2005

Liberty and Freedom?...Freedom and Liberty?

Question: What is the difference between liberty and freedom?
Answer: Why don't you comment! I will give you my definition soon.

Hint: I think the president's second inaugural address says it all.

Update: All right. Here is what I see is the important difference between these words. First let me give you a dictionary definition so that we have a baseline for the discussion. From, the definition of liberty:

Main Entry: lib·er·ty
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French liberté, from Latin libertat-, libertas, from liber free
1 : the quality or state of being free: a : the power to do as one pleases b : freedom from physical restraint c : freedom from arbitrary or despotic control d : the positive enjoyment of various social, political, or economic rights and privileges e : the power of choice.

Also from, the definition of freedom:

Main Entry: free·dom
Function: noun
1 : the quality or state of being free: as a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action b : liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another : INDEPENDENCE c : the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous d : EASE, FACILITY e : the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken f : improper familiarity g : boldness of conception or execution h : unrestricted use

As is normal in the evolution of language, the meanings of these words has changed; in this case, moved towards one another. But even in the modern definitions, differences still exist. Liberty is the ability to "do as one pleases." Freedom is "absence of coercion or constraint in choice." To coin a loose phrase, liberty is a "natural" right, God given, and should be available to anyone that lives on this earth. Freedom is not a right; it is an absence of outside pressure. This absence must be earned and protected. Freedom requires your action to attain and maintain. Liberty is given. Freedom protects and allows liberty.

With these definitions in mind, read this excerpt from the Declaration of Independence:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness...

You see, it is an honest, virtuous government that guarantees freedom. It is freedom that allows liberty to flourish. That type of government is outlined in the Constitution of the United States.

And now from the President's Inaugural Address:

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time.

We may squabble and call each other ugly names. We may celebrate the weaknesses of others and dance in the streets when the opponent is defeated. We may even prostitute ourselves in all sorts of unseemly ways. In the end, the Constitution will stand. There is always hope.